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7 Interesting Superstitions About Pets (Is There Any Truth To Them?)

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on April 12, 2024 by Dogster Team

gray tabby cat and black pug dog on a bench

7 Interesting Superstitions About Pets (Is There Any Truth To Them?)

Pets are beloved parts of human life and society. Throughout the years, pets such as cats and dogs have become the subject of numerous and varying superstitions. Superstitions arise out of myth, observation, experience, and close proximity over time. Many superstitions are silly, but some are harrowing and hair-raising. Do these superstitions have any truth to them? Where did these beliefs come from?

Here are 7 interesting superstitions about pets that are still talked about today.


The 7 Interesting Superstitions About Pets

1. Cats Have Nine Lives

One of the biggest superstitions about pets concerns cats. Many people like to claim that cats have nine lives. Cats seem to escape dangerous situations all the time. Some people even say that cats always land on their feet, but that is also untrue. Whether cats are spotted falling from trees or escaping dangerous outdoor predators, they seem to always emerge unscathed. This illusion of invincibility often follows cats into their old age. It may seem obvious, but it must be said that cats have only one life.

2. One Dog Year Is Worth Seven Human Years

dog with party hat and birthday cake
Image By: Ruth Black, Shutterstock

Another superstition that frequently comes up involves dogs. Many people say that one dog year is worth seven human years. This has led to people asking how old dogs are in human years and simply multiplying their age by seven. This is an incorrect assumption. Dogs live to be an average of 10 years old. That would equal 70 in human years, which is what makes people think that a dog’s life follows a linear 1:7 trajectory that mirrors humans. However, experts say that is not the case.

Dogs do not age and mature the same way that people do. Dogs tend to mature faster than people and reach maturity between 1 and 2 years old. That would put them at 7 to 14 in human years. Some dogs also live longer and age faster than other dogs, which also skews the conception about one dog year equaling seven human years.

3. Dogs & Cats Can See Ghosts & Spirits

Dogs and cats often seem to be reacting to things that people cannot see. Some people have claimed to see their dogs barking at an empty corner with nothing in sight. Other pet owners have observed cats seeming to follow something unseen around the house. These seemingly odd behaviors have led people to believe that dogs and cats can sense and see spirits or ghosts. There is no evidence to support that superstition.

It is more likely that the animals are either reacting to something completely natural that people cannot discern or are simply acting goofy. Dogs and cats have different sensory aptitudes than people. They have better hearing and better senses of smell. That means that your pet could simply be reacting to something they are hearing or smelling that you cannot detect at the moment. No ghosts are required. Sometimes, cats and dogs also have the urge to burn off energy by running around and playing on their own. This is especially true of younger animals. Your pet is likely not seeing spirits at all but just trying to get some exercise after laying around all day.

4. Stepping in Dog Poop Can Determine Your Fate

dog poop
Image By: Javier Brosch ,Shutterstock

In an odd superstition originating in France, stepping in dog poop can either be good luck or portend certain doom. It is all about what foot you step in the poop with. Stepping in dog poop with your left foot results in good luck. Stepping in dog poop with your right foot means bad luck, possibly for life.

The average person will likely say that stepping in any dog poop is always bad luck. However, in Europe, you might find someone checking their shoes to see which foot they stepped in poop with. Science says that dog poop is dog poop. It is all gross, and it will likely cause a smelly mess when you step into it. No luck included.

5. A Dog’s Howl Portends Death

For centuries, a dog howling was connected to ill omens. Some people believed that if a dog was caught howling outside of a house, it was a sign of coming illness or death. If a dog was found howling outside the home of a sick person, that person was pegged as a lost cause. If the dogs were chased off and then returned, the omen was reinforced. Two howls close together often meant certain death.

The dog howling superstition has roots in cultures all over the world. The Egyptian god of death was Anubis, who had the head of a dog. Some people believe that howling dogs are calling for Anubis. In Europe, howling dogs were supposedly calling out to their spectral pack or the invisible spirits of the dead (see #3). Even American Protestants got in on the act, and the myth of the howling dog invaded the American south before the Civil War.

Dogs howl naturally, and there is nothing that points to a dog’s howl being anything but a natural behavior. In medieval times there used to be a lot more stray and wild dogs roaming about and, frankly, a lot more death, but the two are not necessarily connected.

6. Black Cats Are Bad Luck

close up of black cat with yellow eyes
Image By: Virvoreanu-Laurentiu, Pixabay

Like the superstition about the howling dogs, the idea that black cats are bad luck also has its roots in medieval lore. Starting sometime after the fall of the Roman Empire, black cats started becoming equated with witchcraft, the devil, and black magic. Spotting a black cat was quickly tied to the presence of evil or magic. This caused black cats to be targeted for hunting and extermination. Ironically, killing black cats actually caused more problems than solutions. Fewer cats during medieval times meant more pests like mice which then went on to spread disease, eat stored food, and cause misery among people. That is because black cats are not actually bad luck or are associated with evil. They are just cats, and cats have always been useful at hunting rodents and keeping small pest populations to reasonable levels.

7. Cats Listen & Spread Gossip

In an odd superstition originating in the Netherlands, some people believe that cats listen and spread gossip. The Dutch have a saying that claims if you speak freely around a cat, it will spread your words and cause gossip to spread. For these reasons, some superstitious people will refuse to have intimate or damning conversations in the presence of a cat. It is far more likely that the person you are talking to might not be as trustworthy as you believe. Science gently reminds us that cats can’t talk or understand English. That means they have no physical means of spreading your dirty secrets to your neighbors. Still, that hasn’t stopped some people from thinking that these pets are connected to the local rumor mill.


These superstitions are as ubiquitous as they are interesting. Some of these superstitions date back centuries or even millennia. From ghosts to lucky dog poop to howling canines, superstitions have followed people and their pets for generations. Superstitions are fun to indulge in from time to time, but they are not factual or true. Many behaviors are natural and simply coincide with human activities by pure chance.

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Featured Image Credit: Priscilla Du Preez, Unsplash

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